Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What's Deadly and Persistent and Gray All Over?

Britain basically (with a narrow but damning "out") accused Russia of an unlawful use of force against Britain for the nerve gas poisonings in Britain.

Russians responded by reminding Britain of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

Nice. #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings.

So is this an act of war?

Putin's Kremlin practices what some analysts call "gray zone warfare."

Waging a gray zone campaign requires maintaining "plausible deniability" -- in order to escape retribution, be able to deny responsibility for the dirty and destructive operations.

Propaganda, crime, covert influence operations, cyber intrusions and old-fashioned bribery are gray zone weapons.

The Putin-led Kremlin employs all of them and more.

As I've said, Russia wages war, denies it is waging war, and counts on the West going along with the fiction and doing nothing effective. Would Western sanctions over Ukraine seem effective absent depressed oil prices?

But Britain doesn't need to make a legal case against Russia--which Russia would ignore if that happened (witness China's rejection of the South China Sea case that the Philippines "won"). But Britain can act. In equally gray areas. Short of murder of innocents, of course.

But I think the best British retaliation would be to raise and deploy a tank brigade to Poland. And deploy mine warfare capabilities in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea.

UPDATE: I'm not sure why this author is claiming America is not backing Britain when "President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way." America understandably would like to have evidence to condemn Russia.

Nor do I get what the author means by saying Brexit's effect is to "tear up our alliance with our EU allies." The EU is no defense alliance. It is a proto-imperial project. NATO is an alliance and NATO remains strong, with Britain as a leading European member of that alliance.

America is already resisting the Russians in Syria and eastern NATO as well as pledging to upgrade nuclear weapons including non-strategic weapons to counter Russia.

In what way is America refusing to stand up to Russia? In what way is the EU even a factor in Russian calculations?

UPDATE: Again, I don't understand the "Britain alone" angle:

The United States, European Union and NATO voiced support for Britain after May said it was "highly likely" that Russia was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military.

Russia took an action insufficiently gray by using a nerve agent that Russia appears to make.

Britain will announce measures today, that will include economic sanctions and the expulsion of Russian diplomats on a large scale.

UPDATE: Britain announces a halt to high-level contacts with Russians and the expulsion of 23 Russian intelligence people operating under diplomatic cover. More actions will follow.

The brigade thing would be good.

UPDATE: If America strikes Assad's forces in the near future, I wonder if Britain would join saying it is a blow against poison gas use as a pointed response to Russia via Russia's poison gas-using ally Assad?

UPDATE: I'm not sure if Russia could afford to cut off natural gas exports to Britain, but European reliance on Russia does give Russia that option.

I'm sure America would make an effort to replace supplies, but I don't know how fast that could be ramped up. Probably not fast enough during a cold snap.

All the more reason that another response to Russia's attack should be to unleash the power of fracking in Britain and Europe to reduce reliance on Russian supplies.